17 January 2015

Is Cardale Jones making a mistake not entering the NFL Draft?

(AP)
Cardale Jones has certainly had an interesting couple of months. This time in November, Jones was perhaps only known for that silly tweet he made a couple of years ago. All of a sudden J.T. Barrett goes down with an ankle injury against Michigan and Jones took the reins and then went on to lead them to the national championship. Not too bad for somebody that not too terribly long ago was a third-string quarterback.

Now given that at the moment Barrett and Braxton Miller, the starter before suffering a shoulder injury and being lost of the season, are seemingly returning to Columbus, many were expecting Jones, a redshirt sophomore, to enter the NFL Draft. However, Jones decided to return to OSU on Thursday. Is his decision a mistake?

To be fair to Jones, he has the correct reasoning as to why he is returning to Ohio State. He said he wants to graduate from college ahead of going to the next level, saying that "a first-round draft pick means nothing to me without my education." In a day and age when student-athletes are more like student-athletes, hearing somebody put aside his football dreams in order to finish his education is pretty refreshing.

And as to the silly criticism about Jones holding a press conference, Ted Ginn Sr., whom the school Jones made his decision in is named for, said that Jones wanted "to be the example for our community and the kids that's around here." For his part, Jones said that the press conference was not his idea.

But when bringing his decision back to the football side of things, this decision does certainly come with some risk. It is hard to imagine Jones's draft stock being higher than it would have been right now in the wake of doing something that really has not been seen before in regards to his three starts being what they were in the B1G Championship and then in the inaugural College Football Playoff. His intriguing skill-set would certainly help the cause as well as the fact that beyond Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston, the quarterback crop this year is not that deep at all.

Compounding the risk is that there is no guarantee that Jones will be playing next season. After all, one cannot forget that Barrett was putting himself into the Heisman conversation before getting hurt as he was having a sensational season after a slow start. If Jones and Barrett are engaged in a quarterback controversy, Jones could easily find himself not playing at all even after winning a national championship. And while I would be surprised if Miller were to return to Ohio State, there has not been anything firm that he is indeed leaving meaning that he could be in a quarterback battle as well.

Who knows, maybe Jones wins the job, tears up college football next year and gets in the mix to be the first overall pick. Can we really rule out anything after his three start stretch to win the national title? And it sounds like to him, it just about does not matter to him which is not something you hear often in collegiate athletics. But simply from a football standpoint, nobody can deny that this is a decision that will carry a good deal of risk over the next calendar year.

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